What to Read in a Time of Plague

What to Read in a Time of Plague March 22, 2020

Now that the country is largely on lockdown, what should Christians be reading? Scripture, of course. And Audible is giving away two free audiobooks to Amazon Prime members. But if you need more than that, here are a few classic works that are all free and available online:

  • Whether One may Flee from a Deadly Plague” by Martin Luther. A sample:

    “It is not forbidden but rather commanded that by the sweat of our brow we should seek our daily food, clothing, and all we need and avoid destruction and disaster whenever we can, as long as we do so without detracting from our love and duty toward our neighbor. How much more appropriate it is therefore to seek to preserve life and avoid death if this can be done without harm to our neighbor, inasmuch as life is more than food and clothing, as Christ himself says in Matthew 5 [6:25].”

  • The right and necessary improvement of a time of bodily sickness and mortality” by Thomas Boston. A sample:

    “Beware of feeding yourselves with dreams and fancies, wherein there is no reality. There are many foolish virgins with lamps without oil, and foolish builders on the sand. There are many whose life is but one continued dream, wherein they judge aright of nothing, neither God, heaven, hell, nor the world. So that their awakening cannot be but terrible. But be ye wise.”

  • Devotions upon Emergent Occasions and “Death’s Duel” by John Donne, the former written on reflection of his sickness, the latter (if I remember correctly) was his last sermon. A sample:

    “‘There is no rest in my bones, because of my sin;’ [Psalm 38:3] transfer my sins, with which thou art so displeased, upon him with whom thou art so well pleased, Christ Jesus, and there will be rest in my bones.”

  • The Terror of the Lord: Some Account of the Earthquake that Shook New England” by Cotton Mather and others. A sample:

    “But our Gracious GOD is pleased sometimes to make use of such, to do Good in the World; that so, Man may be Nothing, and HE may be All in All.

  • On the Mortality” by Cyprian. A sample:

    ” And further, beloved brethren, what is it, what a great thing is it, how pertinent, how necessary, that pestilence and plague which seems horrible and deadly, searches out the righteousness of each one, and examines the minds of the human race, to see whether they who are in health tend the sick; whether relations affectionately love their kindred; whether masters pity their languishing servants; whether physicians do not forsake the beseeching patients; whether the fierce suppress their violence; whether the rapacious can quench the ever insatiable ardour of their raging avarice even by the fear of death; whether the haughty bend their neck; whether the wicked soften their boldness; whether, when their dear ones perish, the rich, even then bestow anything, and give, when they are to die without heirs. Even although this mortality conferred nothing else, it has done this benefit to Christians and to God’s servants, that we begin gladly to desire martyrdom as we learn not to fear death. These are trainings for us, not deaths: they give the mind the glory of fortitude; by contempt of death they prepare for the crown.”

Happy reading, and stay healthy everyone!

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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